Ash Wednesday is the day which marks the beginning of the season of Lent, the liturgical period of forty weekdays which precedes Easter. It is a season during which Catholics traditionally examine the course their lives are taking and it calls for a degree of repentance and conversion of heart. It is often accompanied by increasingly fervent prayer and some degree of fasting and self-denial. In preparation for Ash Wednesday ashes are burnt from palm fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations. They are spread over the foreheads of Catholics who attend Mass or other liturgy on Ash Wednesday. This represents a powerful symbol of mortality, and spurs Catholics on to make a genuine effort to live out the spirit of the Lenten season in as dedicated a manner as possible.

Acknowledgements
Photo by F Wilkinson

Reviewed
14 October 2019

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